Engage Your Loyal Friends!

I know lots and lots of business owners that have lots and lots of "friends" on their various Friends Selfiesocial media channels yet they often complain they are not seeing sales match the number of people who are following them.

Wanna know why?

Because you have not ASKED for their help.

Follow along on this for a moment. It takes seconds to "Like" a page and maybe...maybe comment... Once done with that task many of your "friends" feel as if their investment is over. And you, and your business, racks up another "Like" which will do little to boost your bottom line.

How do you fix that?

  • Say "Thank You" - Don't ignore new "likes" or "friends" they may have liked your page but without you engaging them with at least a "Thank you!" they have little reason to champion your business;
  • Reward Your Brand Warriors - It doesn't take much to know WHO really helps drive your business. Which of your friends/customers continue to share positive messages about your brand to their friends. Then invite them to enjoy a free SOMETHING as a "thank you" for their help;
  • Have a Party - Want to jump start engagement?  If I had a retail business with hundreds or even thousands of "friends" I would invite the most active of them to the business for a party...just for them. Thank them for their work and give them a simple assignment to keep it up;
  • Personal Friends - Outside of social media you no doubt have friends...you know...folks you know well and often hang out with.  Don't forget them. They already like you so why not ask them to share their thoughts about your business with their friends?  The next gathering where you are together slip them a note with the "ask"...ask them to become brand warriors. Bet they will.

You can do all of this with a little effort that will pay huge rewards. Engage your "Friends" and they will help champion your brand.

You're welcome!

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi

 

 


Ad Blocking - What it Means for Business

Hang on because those of you who are spending money on popup or banner ads on websites Road Closedare in for a bit of a shock. The use of ad blocking is growing rapidly. A full 25% of internet users currently use ad blocking software and that number is expected to double in 2016. Double... Here's the story from eMarketer.

We already know that people are skipping through ads on broadcast television. We already know that people tune out ads on the radio. We already know that click-through rates on internet ads is dismal. We already know that most email marketing has a lousy click through rate IF it gets past the "Junk Mail" folder.

Why?

Because most advertising done on a local level is just plain...bad. There is no incentive to NOT block or skip or open the marketing message because...it's usually done poorly.

What to do?  Here are some solid tips to help you and your business get noticed:

Get Creative - Yes it costs money for good creative but you want your message to be seen/heard...correct? Lousy creative means lousy response. Give consumers a reason NOT to BLOCK your message. It makes no sense to spend $5,000 on an advertising campaign and spend zero on creative. It's called "burning money";

Get Social - If your marketing is not correctly using social media you are not going to be successful in reaching consumers. It takes planning and thought and work and consistency to pull off a successful social media campaign...not some "intern" who "knows the internet". Sit down and think...think about your message, your customers, where they hang out, what they want and then communicate with them...socially.

Get Busy - Reaching out to your current or potential customer requires you to know what is hot and what is not. There are, according to my good friend Mike Wagner, only three reasons why people are not buying what you are selling: 1) Wrong Product, 2) Wrong People, 3) Wrong Message.

There is help available. I know dozens of professional advertising/marketing people in the country. The question to you is...do you want the help or are you blocking this message?

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi

 

 

 

 

 

 


Please People - Go Mobile for Business

Last week I was traveling through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (fit THAT on a business card!) and down one of the concourses I found something called Minute Suites.They Minute Suites are private suites that travelers can rent by the hour so you can catch up on much needed sleep, have a meeting, do some work...you get it. Really nice idea and something that international travelers have seen for some time.

I wanted to learn more and, because I was traveling, I used my phone to dial up their website.

This is where the story gets difficult. Above you'll catch a screen shot of their website that popped up on my phone. Notice that it's not mobile friendly. To even attempt to read anything about the company you've got to "pinch and stretch" the screen.  

I took a moment and shot off a quick Tweet to @MinuteSuites complementing the idea and suggesting they might want to go mobile...because, and here is the irony...they are trying to reach travelers who are working their mobile devices but the company is making it difficult for consumers to engage.

Minute Suites TwitterI did get a reply and here it is: 

Kudos for the fast social media turn but what the heck is the Mind Body App? I don't want to know I just want to connect...mobile.

My message is not to be mean...but your lesson, if you are still with me is this: You MUST know your consumer base and how they connect with your product/service and then do everything you can to boost their ability to engage you.

It matters...

Thanks for reading and, as always, dive in if you've got a comment.

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi

 

 


Future Entrepreneurs - Simpson Collage

This week I was honored to be asked to judge the Simpson College 2016 Iron Journalist Pitch. I Simpson Iron Journalist 2016 was joined by Heather Hassebroek (Bublins) and Kaylee Williams (Volunteer Local). We were there to listen to business startup ideas created by four journalism students, Brock Borgenson (top left), Brittany Robb (top right), James Tillison (bottom left) and Kylee Hereid (bottom right).  The judges were encouraged to offer tips and ask questions of each contestant.

I know, "What? Journalism Students pitching for-profit business ideas?!?" That had me too so I was truly intrigued as to why Professor and Chair of Multimedia  Brian Steffen would mix "The Fourth Estate" with business creation. He said, "Journalism is rapidly changing and I want my students to think as entrepreneurs and to learn how to craft messages that will match consumer interest. Many of these students may find success in creating content that is not part of major news organizations but content consumed by people interested in specific niche areas." Good enough for me....

Here is a brief overview of each pitch:

  • Brock Borgenson - I'm not in his target market of but found his idea of marketing the sport of "Gaming" interesting. His idea was to create a portal where people, and there are millions, can come and learn more about professional and amateur "Gamers" through video, written tips, a magazine and walk-through events.  
  • Kylee Hereid - Her pitch was about weddings and creating a place where brides and grooms, in Iowa, could go to find and connect with everything from clothing to cakes. I loved the idea of keeping it "local" to Iowa and thereby helping folks in rural parts of the state get connected with goods and services. She would also, in the future, franchise to other states. This edition was I Do - Iowa. Nice. 
  • Brittany Robb - This was an interesting twist covering virtual reality news. In fact the site is called VRNews. The goal was to share VR technology news with others from business to research schools. She says, and I have to agree, this technology will be the next "hot thing".
  • James Tillison - This pitch became personal. James received his Eagle Scout at the age of 15. His pitch was hyper-local to the Mid-Iowa Council of The Boy Scouts of America. He envisioned a platform that would instruct, encourage and expand the knowledge of the 2,000+ Boy Scouts in Central Iowa. As he was presenting my mind floated back to my Boy Scout days and the impact those had on my life.   

We asked questions, tallied up the score and in the end the winner of the 2016 Simpson College Iron Journalist Challenge was Brock Borgeson of Naperville, Illinois.

Good stuff and thank you again for asking me to be part of the adventure. It was worth every minute. 

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi


Bad Public Relations is Bad Branding

If the numbers are any indication shopping malls in the United States are becoming extinct. Overwhelmed According to Green Street Advisers, a real estate and REIT analytic firm 15% of US malls will fail and be converted into non-retail space in the next ten years. In 15 - 20 years retail consultants say that as many as half of the current malls in this country will fail...unless your anchor is a very upscale store.

With that kind of future one would think malls would be trying to find a way to offer a kind and welcoming face to the public. One would think.

Last year Merle Hay Mall became the first to demand that the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) move their bus stop off their property. DART says they tried to negotiate something with mall owners but, in the end failed. (They tell me they are still open for negotiation.)

Valley West LogoThen last week management at Valley West Mall in West Des Moines sent a letter to DART telling them they would have to move their bus stop off mall property. In a Des Moines Register piece this past weekend mall management, I suspect Paul Stender, says the current bus stop has "overwhelmed the retail center with buses and riders". DART has told me they continue to reach out to Valley West Mall to compromise.

Internal statistics from DART suggest that 75% of the riders to Valley West Mall are employees or shoppers and 25% are seeking to transfer to a different bus.

But, the mall is "overwhelmed".

Here, in all its glory is exactly the wrong way to brand...anything.  Get into a very public pissing match with an agency that serves, often, handicapped individuals, poor folks who can't afford a car and employees who are stuck at a retail minimum wage jobs.

Nice going...and now, on Facebook, there is an ever growing number of people who are offering to ease the crowding at Valley West Mall through a boycott.

Let's return to the first paragraph. Malls are in enough trouble and, for the life of me, I can't understand why they would wish to hurry their demise. One of my favorite stores is Von Maur. How favorite? When I pull out my Petersen Harned & Von Maur credit card I got back in 1982 employees tend to oooh and ahhh and say, "My, you have been with us for a very long time". I suspect, if I want to continue shopping there, it may have to be on-line. On-line shopping....the other reason malls are floundering.

Thanks for reading.

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi

 


New Horizons

I'm often struck at how fast we are moving forward. How, it seems, that each day something Speeding
new and fresh and exciting creates opportunity where not long ago there was none...or at least they were different

Step in the "Way-Back Machine" and consider what it was like ten years ago:

The sharing economy did not exist. Today we have companies like Airbnb, Lyft, Uber and others that have created a shift in how we market and sell services.

Television entertainment focused on cable, satellite or over the air transmission. Today consumers are cutting the cord at record numbers and watching on Netflix, Hulu and a host of other options.

Marijuana has emerged as not only a cash crop for Colorado but also coming is California and a host of other states and it's not only medical cannabis. This change has boosted another industry. Colorado is the number one state in the nation in promotional products. No, really.

And there is more..

Cars that navigate the roads on their own, electric vehicles that don't look like a battery (think Tesla), the rise of sustainability in products and services, podcasting where your business can create its own radio station, metrics that measure the success or failure of just about anything, relationship marketing through a host of social media tools...and that's just scratching the surface.

None of it was here just ten years ago.

So, what is next? We can speculate but the question you must ask yourself is this, "What have I done to better capture the realities of the new economy and match them with the consumer?"

What are your plans?

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi

 

 

 

 


Grow Your Business Through Engagement - 3 Tips

Never in the history of business has there been so many ways to engage consumers and grow Customer Engagement Puzzleyour business. At the same time you can use many tools to satisfy and retain your current customers. It may very well be "The Golden Age of Business".

But, it all takes work.

How about some first steps?

Know Your Current Customer Base - You would be surprised at the number of business people who don't know why people choose to do business with them. The best way to find out is to ask them. Ask what it is about your business that has driven these customers to you and make a list;

Rinse and Repeat - Once you've got a list of why customers have come to your business the goal is to keep them coming back. Look at your list. If they are impressed by what you've done...do more of it; 

Where is Your Customer? - This is a critical step in the process. Where does your customer hang out? What are they reading? What interests do they have? Once you know where they prefer to get their information, be it traditional or new media, start to spend more time in that space. This does two things: 1) Re-enforces their loyalty because they see more of you and; 2) If they are here so too are others that you want to reach, engage and turn into customers.

Three simple steps to get yourself aligned with your current customer so you can build your business through retention and recruitment.  

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi


So What Do you DO?

It's a question I get...all the time. Somebody asks, "So, what do you do?" and my reply is Woman Beach
that 
I have an advertising and marketing agency. The questioner then nods politely as if he/she understands. But, I've been in this long enough to know that unless your business is advertising and marketing the vast majority of people have absolutely no idea what we do in this space.  Heck, even my Mother often said, "My children? One is a doctor the other...I have no idea what he does something about advertising...I think."

And that...from my Mother.

So what do we do around here?  Two words:

Awareness & Desire

We create awareness of our client's products and services and we do that with many different techniques. It could be with traditional media such as television commercials, radio commercials, print advertising, billboards...you know the stuff you see every day. Or it could be creating awareness using new media or digital media like email, texting, Facebook, Twitter, blogging. You get the idea.  And, because not every product or service matches the media we need to discover who our target is and where they are hanging out.

Creating desire is all together different. Creating desire includes a call to action, visual images that put the consumer in a touch with our clients product/service.  Allowing them to see or imagine themselves using or at least trying the product or service we are delivering. We emote, we share, we drive a message that creates desire to learn more.

For example this morning I spent four hours looking at images of food as we prepare to create a website for a client. No, really...four hours looking and writing words that match the images that will create awareness and desire.

That's what it is we, and hundreds of advertising agencies do...every day. We like to think of it as a craft. The craft of creation.  

Maybe that's why, even my Mother, had no idea what I do...

Thanks for reading!

  6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi

 


Stop Advertising? Even if Your are Giving Away Money?

The other day I was listening to the radio and heard an advertisement for a business that gives Man Throwing Money away money...lots of money.  You would think that a business that gives away money wouldn't need to advertise yet there isn't a day that goes by where the Iowa Lottery isn't blasting away on radio, television and in print.

So now, let's talk about your business.

You may not be as well heeled as Terry Rich and my friends at the Iowa Lottery but it says a bunch about the need to keep plugging away, even when everybody knows your name.  So, how do you do it?  Here are a couple of tips to affordable advertising that you might want to keep in mind:

  • Go Local Chamber - If you have a business and you are hyper local stay connected, in person with your Chamber. Get involved. Your Chamber Membership is only an expense if you don't use it. When you do it becomes an investment;
  • Look for Bargains - Every media outlet has what we call excess inventory. It can be electronic or in print. Create a relationship with the sales people and you might get that call;
  • Become an Expert - Everybody has a question about nearly every business. Offer your expertise for civic functions become a media contact and share the knowledge. If folks know that you "know" they will ask for your input.
  • Start Your Blog - There is a reason Richard Branson blogs and recommends that every business owner have one: Transparency and Relationships - Your blog can build trust and be a place you can send people for answers;
  • Start a Social Media Campaign - But be smart about it and have a great understanding of where you should be and who you are trying to reach;
  • Buy Some Advertising - Two words of caution: 1) You may not buy just "any advertising" only that advertising where you KNOW your target consumer hangs out and 2) Get some help. When designing whatever advertising you are doing make sure it's done well and has a call to action otherwise give your money away..oh wait, that's where we started.

Excuse me...I've got to call Terry and see if he's got a good number for me on the next Powerball.

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi

 

 


Why Knowing Trends Matters

We follow trends because it's important to understand where business is going rather than Closed Storewhere we've been. Not to say we should forget about our history but our eyes should always be on tomorrow so that business can adjust to the market. And we're not just talking about color schemes. We're talking about major shifts in consumers that drives marketing/advertising.

Home Depot is a case in point.

Last week, on the Business News Hour, we had a story about how Home Depot was changing their marketing mix away from the Do It Yourself person and focusing more on professional re-modelers and contractors. For a business that has built their brand on DIY this is a seismic shift.

Why?

Because the understand the trends in home-ownership. Consider:

  • Home-Ownership at an All Time Low: Only 63.5% of Americans own their home the lowest number since 1967;
  • DIY Gives Way to Do It For Me: As Baby Boomers age they are not as interested in tackling a kitchen or bathroom re-do and would rather hire it done;
  • Got No Skills: In many parts of the country "Shop Class" is a thing of the past. Shop was replaced by computer science and a generation didn't learn about building stuff;
  • More Renters: Blame it on the recession, stagnate wages, the desire to have fixed monthly expenses; whatever the reason more and more people are turning to rentals. Check the chart below.

Rise of RentersIt all adds up to a trend and Home Depot responded even though it meant moving away from what made them the best DIY store in the nation.

So, here are some questions for you:  Are you staying ahead of the trends? Are you paying attention? If sales are in a slump, or just not as robust as they once were, is it a trend away from your product or service? Do you know?

Maybe it's time to think about it...

Thanks for reading!

6a00d83452534069e201a3fd12f548970b-800wi